While introducing cabinet nominees to Parliament on Tuesday, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani touched on a number of policy priorities, reserving considerable attention to touting plans for economic development, combating corruption and promoting inclusivity.
President Ghani called on incoming security leaders to transition their respective institutions to relying more on domestic services and products in order to help spur economic growth. As the Ministry of Interior (MoI) and Ministry of Defense (MoD) maintain two of the largest budgets in the Afghan government, their expenditures every year on non-strategic supplies are so significant that if more were put back into circulation in the domestic market Ghani reasons it would make a difference.
"America's aid will not help our economy and infrastructure," Ghani said, promising to encourage domestic industrial growth. He went on to say that say that his government would also focus on regional economic cooperation, which many experts have said was neglected in the past.
While directing his comments toward the security ministries, the president stressed the importance of better monitoring of government contracts. "After this, the ministries of defense and interior will be obliged to use domestic products - from shoes, to food and all other goods - and also each contract will not be sent to you until I evaluate it," he told those gathered in Parliament, including representatives and the cabinet nominees.
President Ghani said reducing poverty and unemployment would be his priorities in the coming years. To start, he asked lawmakers to approve bigger budgets for the country's ten poorest provinces.
Staying consistent with much of his public statements on policy priorities since taking office, Ghani also discussed his intentions to pursue reform and initiatives that will curtail corruption inside the Afghan government. "Every minister should prepare specific programs for anti-corruption and if the minister him or her self is suspected, first he should resign and after that be prosecuted," Ghani said. "Even if I make a mistake, prosecute me," he added.
The president promised to promote more effective roles for Afghan women and youth in the country's governing and economic system. More pointedly, he said that there would be zero-tolerance for violence against women among government officials.
In addition, Ghani spoke briefly about increasing security for the capital and holding elections for city mayors within two years.